Geoff Horsfield scored a fabulous first-half hat-trick to fire Fulham past Northampton Town and into the second round of the League Cup at Craven Cottage this evening.

The former Halifax forward had already broken the Cobblers’ hearts by turning in a late winner at Sixfields in the first leg and he took just six minutes to extend Fulham’s 2-1 aggregate lead. The burly striker moved menacing towards the penalty area, played a give and go with strike partner Paul Peschisoldio, and then curled a majestic finish high into the top corner from 20 yards.

Aston Villa loanee Darren Byfield brought the Cobblers level on the night on the half hour but any hopes of a famous fightback were extinguished when Horsfield completed his treble with two goals in the space of two minutes before the interval. His second was surely one of the simplest finishes of his career – tucking a loose ball into the unguarded Putney End net after a dreadful mix-up between Ian Hendon and goalkeeper Keith Welch.

He secured the match ball from Fulham’s next attack when Peschisolido sped along the left wing and supplied the perfect pass for Horsfield to cut inside his man and lift a lovely finish above the helpless Welch to make it 5-1 on aggregate.

FULHAM (5-3-2): Taylor; Finnan, Brevett (Hayward 50), Morgan (Symons 78), Melville, Coleman; Davis, Clark, Trollope; Horsfield, Peschisolido. Subs (not used): Hahnemann, Uhlenbeek, Betsy.

GOALS: Horsfield (6, 43, 44)

NORTHAMPTON TOWN (5-3-2): Welch; Hendon, Frain, Sampson, Howey, Hunt; Spedding, Savage, Corazzin (Wilson 60); Byfield, Howard. Subs (not used): Hope, Gibb, Parrish, Sturridge.

BOOKED: Howard.

GOAL: Byfield (30).

REFEREE: Ken Leach (Witney).